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Claudia Wallace, the only cast member who is a Chicago native, says the experience introduced her to events she knew little about _ the 1919 race riots and Haymarket riots, for instance. Not great material for comedy, and yet …

“You put a spin on it and try to find the humor,” she says. “All we can do is put it in front of the audience and they can tell us if it’s funny or not.”

Liz Garibay, the museum’s public programs manager, agrees.

“I think all tragedies can be funny, once you give yourself a little time to be sad or mourn,” she says. She briefed the Second City cast on Chicago’s long history of protests, starting with the Lager beer riots of 1855 when the mayor renewed a measure to close taverns on Sundays and the cost of liquor licenses went up. The mayor was job hunting the next year.

It’s these little-known episodes that might end up in the all-Chicago show, though skits about the city have often been in revues. The comedy club was founded 52 years ago by a group of intellectuals, mostly from the University of Chicago. The shows draw heavily on topical humor, satire and improvisation _ often with a political bent.

Over the past half-century, the club has served as a college for hundreds of comics and actors ranging from Alan Arkin and Joan Rivers in the beginning to decades later, Tina Fey, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert.

A few classic Second City skits have featured Chicago. One in the early `60s poked fun at the incongruities of introducing football into the rarefied intellectual air of the University of Chicago. It has a professor teaching the sport to three brainy students, dutifully explaining “we have a left guard and a right guard, but no Kierkegaard.”

More recently, Second City produced “Between Barack and a Hard Place,” just as Barack Obama was catching fire as a presidential candidate from Chicago. Both the president and Michelle Obama saw the show, and according to Leonard, enjoyed it.

And a surprise hit was “Rod Blagojevich Superstar,” a parody of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which mocked the helmet-haired former governor, then accused of federal corruption charges, as a greedy narcissist. The cast serenaded him with the lyrics: “Are you as nuts as we think you are?”

In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction moment, Blagojevich _ who has since been convicted of trying to sell Obama’s former Senate seat _ joined the cast on stage one night, appearing with arms outstretched as if he were being crucified (befitting the original musical).

When the audience cheered, he responded: “Where were you when I was impeached?”

He then sat down and watched himself be skewered. “It was surreal,” Leonard says.

The idea of tailoring a show to a city and its history started about four years ago when Second City developed “How I Lost My Denverginity” in Denver. Shows followed in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Laguna Beach, Calif., Rochester, N.Y., Louisville, and elsewhere.

Writers visit the city to immerse themselves in the culture and history and gather material.

“We’re not there to criticize your city but we wouldn’t be Second City if we weren’t making fun of it,” Leonard says. “There’s a very fine line between those two things. So what we end up doing is sort of creating what I call a dysfunctional love letter … where we’re making fun of the infamous characters but we’re also celebrating a lot of their imperfections.”

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